Hazard Alert

Hazard Alert

A paper worker was killed and four others were sent to the emergency room for treatment when an overheated air compressor ignited oil vapors inside the compressor and air receiver tank.

Prior to the explosion and resulting warehouse fire, a paper machine and supporting equipment were shut down to replace a leaking 3-inch 'mill' water line valve. The shut down of the well water pump caused a decrease in water flow to the air compressors. (There were five, rotary screw, 400 horsepower Gardner Denver Electra-Saver Stationary Base Mounted Compressors with two 16' tall and 7' in diameter 7,500-gallon receiver air tanks, manufactured by Wheeler Tank Manufacturing Company and two chiller units located above the compressors.) These compressors were changed from air-cooled to water-cooled approximately two years before the accident.

Prior to the accident, three of the five compressors were in operation. Two of them tripped out due to high temperatures; one continued to run. When the operating compressor's internal temperature exceeded 300-degrees Fahrenheit, it caught on fire. Within seconds, the receiver tank catastrophically ruptured due to an explosion of oil vapors inside of the tank. (The flash point of the oil is 210-degrees Fahrenheit). The explosion and fire damage was so severe and extensive that the paper mill has been shut down permanently with the loss of 259 jobs.


Press Inquiries

Thank You

Thank you for contacting us. We will try to get back to you in a timely manner.

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Shannon Devine
416-544-5946 or

Communications Department:
Nicole Desnoyers

Communications Department - Québec
Clairandrée Cauchy

Mailing Address

United Steelworkers
234 Eglinton Ave. E., 8th Floor
Toronto, ON M4P 1K7